UNMISS hands over new COVID-19 isolation unit to Nimule hospital in Eastern Equatoria

UNMISS protection of civilians COVID-19 Eastern Equatoria peacekeepers South Sudan peacekeeping quick impact project

UNMISS recently handed over a 24-bed COVID-19 isolation unit to Nimule Hospital in Eastern Equatoria to ensure that community members who contract the virus can be treated effectively. Photo by Samira Y. Salifu/UNMISS.

6 Oct 2021

UNMISS hands over new COVID-19 isolation unit to Nimule hospital in Eastern Equatoria

Samira Y. Salifu

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has handed over a 24-bed COVID-19 isolation unit to the Nimule Hospital in Eastern Equatoria under its Quick Impact Projects programme.

“We believe that this facility will encourage more returns, especially for those who were hesitant because of the lack of a facility to manage and control infectious diseases,” said Caroline Waudo, the Head of Office for UNMISS in Eastern Equatoria.

Nimule Hospital is a 174-bed county hospital which serves the border town of Nimule and caters to South Sudanese residents of the Adjumani refugee camp across the border in Uganda. With the advent of COVID-19, there has been mounting pressure on the hospital’s strained resources, although medical staff here have weathered additional workloads with remarkable resilience.

“Even when we had no funding, the hospital continued to allocate staff who were willing to respond to the COVID crisis,” said David Nyuma, the hospital’s administrator.

“Testing of truck drivers is a challenge as we’ve had to grapple with isolating them in makeshift structures and feeding them,” added Gama Emmanuel, a county health representative.

495 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Nimule town since August 2020. Often, the critically ill are referred to the Juba Teaching Hospital several kilometres away. Despite additional assistance from partners such as UNICEF, WHO, and Medair, the Nimule Hospital still needs more help.

“It is true that we have now expanded our testing capacity, for instance. But challenges such as lack of access to water and electricity persist,” revealed Mr. Emmanuel.

Additionally, the UN Peacekeeping mission and partners face the ongoing challenge of supporting similar construction projects without an established minimum standard for default construction practice requirements.

“We need the government to produce standard architectural drawings so that partners will not need to reinvent the wheel each time such structures are to be built,” urged Ms Waudo.

This new isolation facility replaces old and dilapidated temporary tents which previously served as an Ebola treatment centre and were repurposed for the management of COVID. It will play a key role in case management and investigation of Coronavirus and help control community transmission.

“As this building is now in our hands, it should be the priority of our state government to take collective responsibility to maintain it,” said David Otto, the County Commissioner for the area.

Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) are small-scale, low cost projects, funded by UNMISS, that are planned and implemented within a short timeframe. In the past year alone, UNMISS has completed a number of similar projects in Eastern Equatoria, including a primary healthcare unit in Labalwa, classroom blocks in Enyif and Ibalanyi, and a safe house in Kapoeta.